I’m not what you will normally describe as a fan of museums, however I have to say on our recently trip to the Orsay museum I was pleasantly surprised. In many ways it reminded me of the MET in NYC. Located in an former railway station built in 1898-1900, the Orsay museum is a site to be hold even for the jaded Parisian. After a brief restoration completed a couple of years ago, the building itself as well as the view of the Seine are breathtaking and worth the visit itself. Also most visitor to Paris put the Louvre at the top of their list, the Orsay museum provide a spectacular alternative. The price is 13$ (this is the standard museum admission fee for most of the museum in Paris) per person but admission is free if you are under 25 and show an ID at the cashier. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was already late and we were only able to spend 2 hours exploring, however I would suggest setting a side an half day. You might also consider that the museum is close on Thursday and you can have free admission on every first Sunday of the month. Note, this Sundays can be very crowded, so come early.
As I mentioned earlier, most of the people consider the Louvre at the top of their list of museum to visit. Personally after our recent visit, I have to say with all things consider I prefer the Orsay museum. It is not as overwhelming in terms of scales and exhibitions and you won’t be as overwhelmed as you might trying to take it all in at the Louvre. I also felt a personal connection to these paintings, they almost talked to me. These are the paintings and sculptures you grown up seeing in books, movies and documentaries. I’m sure you will recognized at list one painting or sculptures for some moments in your life. To be able to get up close and see the marks of the brushes and see how meticulous the artists were in their work was informative and inspiring. Even as a novice like myself, being exposed to this grand masterpieces gave me the curiosity to pay more attention to the details and learn more about the artists.
You will find a large collections of impressionist and post impressionist masterpieces, from such legendary artists like Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh… to just name a few. It is one of the largest museum in Europe. There is something to see in every corner, even if like me you do not necessary like art, I promise you will find a painting or exhibits that will touch your heart.
If you decide to visit the museum, choose a day when the horizon is clear and the sky is blue. There are so many great view points on the second floor to take in the sites of Paris, especially of Montmartre. Unfortunately we didn’t have a great weather during our recent visit and the pictures we took just did not do the view justice. Luckily, there is a beautiful café on the second floor, located just behind the Railway station clock. The location is really cool and the food is excellent.
My parents visited the museum 20 years ago and this was the first time they returned since. My husband has been pushing us all to rediscover Paris, through the eyes of a tourist and as opposed to a busy Parisian who doesn’t have the time to appreciate this amazing city. It is been a lots of fun to actually rediscover some of the city little secrets and hidden pleasures.We had a great day and I will definitely try to take my husband back when we have the time. If you happen to be traveling to Paris in the near future, you should seriously consider adding a visit to this museum on your list.
If you are fortunate enough to have good weather during your visit, you might consider a nice leisurely stroll along the Seine. Stop at one of the many side café and have a coffee and some croissant as well as people watching like a true Parisian.
As I mentioned, the Louvre can be very overwhelming, as one day might be enough for a visit at the Orsay museum, the Louvre might be 2-3 days. I have been fortunate enough to visit the Louvre around 5 times in my life mostly due to school visit. Now that we have visited the Orsay museum, I’ll make sure on our next trip that we have enough time to take in everything the Louvre has to offer as well. I will say that as a Parisian, I now appreciate even more how fortunate we are to have two such specials jewels in our wonderful city.